Friday, June 12, 2020

Iconic Comic Book Creator Denny O'Neil Has Died

Legendary comic book writer Denny O'Neil has died at the age of 81. Known primarily as the man who saved Batman from the campiness of the 1950s and 1960s, he brought the "Detective" back to the Dark Knight Detective's nickname. He was also heralded as one of the greatest writers for the Green Lantern / Green Arrow and created one of the greatest Batman villains in the history of the character in Ra's al Ghul. Not limited to just work with DC Comics, O'Neil also wrote for Marvel books like 'Iron Man' and 'Daredevil.'

As the editor of the Batman titles from 1986, O'Neil also had his hand in the creation of Talia al Ghul, Leslie Thompkins, Azrael, and Richard Dragon. He also helped reshape the Joker and Two-Face into modern-day villains. O'Neil was a vital ingredient for one of the most famous storylines in the Dark Knight's publication history - the Death of Jason Todd, the second Robin.

While working at Marvel as a writer and editor, O'Neil had a hand in the creation of characters like Madame Webb, Hydro-Man, Obadiah Stane, and Lady Deathstrike. He hired an unknown writer / artist named Frank Miller to take over the 'Daredevil' title, whose work on the book became known as one of the greatest runs for the Man Without Fear. He also named Optimus Prime while working on the concept of the 'Transformers.'

Other noteworthy works he contributed to the comic world are the iconic Superman vs. Muhammad Ali one-shot, and the Armageddon 2001 event. He's also the person who first tackled the dangers of drug addiction when he wrote Green Arrow's sidekick as being a heroin user. O'Neil penned tales for titles like The Question, Amazing Spider-Man, and Justice League as well.

Aside from the comic book industry, Denny O'Neil had a successful career working in television. He scripted episodes of such classic TV as 'Logan’s Run,' 'Superboy,' 'Batman: The Animated Series,' and 'G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.'

When I was growing up, my elementary school library had a huge hardcover premium 'Batman' book that collected his greatest stories through the 1930s to the 1970's. Many of those stories were written by Denny O'Neil. He was instrumental in giving Batman his dark edge back through his gothic mysteries and enigmatic crime-solving.

Ra's al Ghul is one of my all-time favorite villains of the Caped Crusader. One of my favorite covers comes from an issue written by O'Neil and illustrated by frequent collaborator Neal Adams. Thank you, Mr. O'Neil, for giving me the "Dark" Knight I still love and being the inspiration for my favorite incarnation of Batman.